Rating: 4 stars
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Werewolf Tobias Rogan is the Arkhon of the Northeast Region. He has no pack of his own, just his mate Kyle, because he rules over the all werewolves in the region. But someone wants him dead and will stop at nothing to achieve that goal.
When a newly turned werewolf shows up at Tobias’s home, he has no choice but to kill his attacker. Worse, it shows that there is a breach in his security, and Tobias knows that one of his human staff members must have given the dead werewolf the code. When Tobias starts investigating, he easily identifies the culprit. It is also clear that the human is under the compulsion of the werewolf who wants Tobias dead. Though Tobias tries to break the compulsion, it is too strong, and in the end, Kyle must kill the human to save both himself and his mate. But there are strict rules for werewolf/human interaction, and killing a human means a death sentence for Kyle. Because it was in self-defense, and the defense of his mate, Kyle is left free, but Kyle feels like it isn’t over and is very distraught over having taken the human’s life.
In the meantime, Tobias and Kyle are preparing to go the annual meeting of Arkhons and Alphas at the Anax’s home. But though they have no choice but to obey–the Anax rules all of the werewolves in the country–they know that he’s the one that wants Tobias dead. The Anax is old and turning senile. He’s not taking care of his werewolves. Tobias knows that if he goes to the meeting, he’ll be in a fight for his life. But he also knows that he’s the best, and perhaps only, wolf that can challenge the Anax and win. Though he doesn’t really want to rule, Tobias knows that he may have to challenge the Anax if he wants werewolves to survive. When the Anax threatens to jail Kyle for his actions against the human after all as a way to get to Tobias, Tobias must decide if he’s willing to risk his mate’s life for the good of all werewolves and challenge the Anax.
Okay, first things first: because there was no indication in the blurb or on the publisher’s website that this book was a part of series, I read it cold without having read the previous books. Because of that, I did feel a bit like I was missing information here and always racing to catch up. This book almost works as a stand-alone, but not quite. The author does a good job of filling in the blank spots eventually. But it does rely on prior knowledge. I think that my enjoyment of the story would have been higher if I had read the previous books. I know I wouldn’t have felt like missing out on critical information. So, I would definitely say this works best when read in order with the other books.
That being said, I did enjoy this story quite a lot. Tobias loves his mate, and takes great pride in taking care of those in his employ and those in his former pack. His and Kyle’s relationship is already well established in this book, and the author does a really good job of showing us how much they love and care for one another. Tobias doesn’t liking killing, but he’ll do it if there’s no other choice, to protect himself or those he loves. But he mourns the loss, even if it’s someone he’s never met. I really liked this guy. I found it easy to connect with him and was invested in him. There were a few moments when I found him a little indecisive, and that made me a little frustrated. But overall, he was a standup guy who did what was good and right. Kyle is an excellent match for him, and they complement each other very well.
I liked the twist on their sexual relationship as well. With Tobias being the more dominant wolf, it’s almost expected that he would take the dominant role in the bedroom as well. But instead, he chooses to take a more submissive role and let Kyle lead. Tobias knows that it’s safe for him to do so with Kyle, that he can let go of his dominance and power, and that Kyle will take care of him. It was a nice addition and not one we see very often where dominant men are concerned.
The majority of the book is focused on the upcoming meeting with Anax that the characters have no choice but to attend. They know that things can’t go well when they arrive, because they know the Anax wants Tobias dead, and there is a great deal of focus on trying to figure out the best way to go to this meeting and get through it unscathed. There were a few moments here where the story seemed to lag just a bit, but for the most part I was as anxious as these guys were, waiting to find out exactly what would be in store for them. I was glad when they brought in reinforcements of friends they could trust to watch their backs, traveled with them, and kept them close by. With the plan in place, they know they are as prepared as they can be and face the situation head on. I liked that determination, and was glad to see it.
I do have to point out an issue I had, and that was that sometimes the thoughts the characters had were repetitive. Especially Tobias. It seemed like Tobias thought the same things over and over, and I got to the point where I wishing for a new or developing thought process instead of the same thing yet again. He knows he has to challenge the Anax, but he doesn’t want to because he’d rather not lead. Okay, I get it. And it’s an important point that needed to be addressed. But after the fourth time that he was thinking this, I felt we really understood that point and wished to move on. It got to be just a little bit irritating by the end of the book.
I’d absolutely recommend this book to anyone who’s read the first four books in the series. And if you’re looking for a good werewolf story, I’d say you can add this to the list…just make sure you’ve read the other books first.